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The Filipino Martial Arts Legacy by Francis T.B. Serrano and Ollie Salvador

This post is dedicated to SGM Cacoy Cañete.  I never had the distinct honor of ever training directly with this legend, but I have met many who have.  If the character of the teacher is measured by the character of his students, then SGM Cacoy Cañete was indeed an honorable man.
As I write this, I am actively doing everything within my power to propagate the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).  I have hosted seminars and tournaments, and I believe I have done a lot to showcase these beautiful martial arts.  But just like many journeys, it requires a point of origin.  It is easy to forget that the Philippines is still a relatively young country.  Although it’s people have existed there for hundreds (and maybe thousands) of years, the Spanish occupied the Philippines from 1565 to1898, and after that the United States colonized the Philippines from 1898 to 1946 – so  the Philippines has been under foreign rule for over 300 years.  It is only now in recent times that we are coming into our own identity.
The Filipino Martial Arts are experiencing a renaissance, where more practitioners are joining, and great instructors are emerging.  On July 27, 2009, Republic Act 9850, declaring Arnis as the National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines, was brought into existence.  Hollywood has started to recognize the beauty, combat effectiveness, and dynamic nature of FMA, and the rest of the world will soon follow.  Instructors such as Ray Dionaldo, Doug Marcaida, and Percival Pableo are starting to break ground and are increasingly recognized by a growing audience of Filipino martial arts enthusiasts.  I know there are many more instructors out there that haven’t been recognized yet, but I strongly believe that they will soon, for FMA is growing – and this era of social media is helping to push the Filipino martial arts into the front and center of people’s awareness.
It is important to appreciate the future, and to appreciate the future we must covet the journey, which must inevitably start at the beginning.  George Santayana said, “To know your future you must know your past.”  This is surely a journey that will bring us full circle.
No matter how fast the Filipino martial arts seem to be growing, we must never forget where we came from.  Many of the Filipino Grand Masters, the true pioneers of FMA, are dying at a rate faster than anyone can fill in the void that they have left in their passing. How many more times will be left where we can we say that we trained with those people who proved the effectiveness of the Filipino martial arts on the battlefield?  
These Grand Masters are national cultural treasures, and as such, we must seek to preserve both their knowledge and the spirit of their arts.  They are the last vital link to our past – our proud heritage that is soaked with the blood of our warrior ancestors.  We must cling to them with all of our might and study the fundamentals of critical knowledge that they left for us, so that we may take the art to new and higher levels.  Advancing the Fundamentals begins with mastery of them, and the practitioner’s journey begins from there.  The only way for us to take FMA to the next level is to know and respect where we came from…to walk the path of our venerable ancestors – and walk new paths to greatness, so that one day, we may stand beside them…kindred spirits from the past and the future, connected by a timeless art, and a warrior’s destiny.
Master Nito Noval of West Coast Doce Pares
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Why we fight – My thoughts of the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament

The anticipation is thick, as my guys Mark & Kyle load the truck with gears and clothes. The time is 0700,  Perris, CA. The weather is high 70’s. Gloomy but no matter how overcast the day may be, nothing is going to diminish the excitement that we all have as we leave for the 2015 GSBA USA National Tournament.
Los Angeles International Airport, Southwest terminal. Checked in and heading towards the gate. Our brothers from Oxnard are there. The hunger is in all our eyes, the hunger that can only be quenched by one thing and one thing alone. GOLD!!! This is not your typical gold fever, for this gold can only be won by combat. The machismo is thick yet the respect is clear; we are kindred warriors. In the battlefield we may be enemies but we are all brothers.
Arriving at Milwaukee International Airport the weather is crisp. At a cool 50 degrees, it is not as cold as 2006, but then again the fire in our hearts and veins will keep us warm. The battle site, Sheraton Brookfield.
Registration: The first time we see our opponents. Make no mistake  –  the battle starts here. Seeing how they lean or do they cringe when you shake their hands? Are they leaner or bigger? Are they limping or not? But just like us, they too have that fire in their eyes and they too have GOLD FEVER.

Talk is cheap, time to show me what you got. As the warriors clash, the sticks fly and there is no longer any holding back. You are giving your all, with every ounce of strength, with every fiber of your being, with all your training against the person in front of you doing the exact same thing. You make contact and as that stick connects you feel every inch of your weapon smashing against their body. You see the hurt they are feeling, yet it does not change their resolve to inflict as much damage as they can on you. The first round is over, is your conditioning enough? As you go back to your corner at that moment you think to yourself have I trained hard enough? Then you look to your coach and they say to you, “Fight hard, fight strong, and fight to win.” That 30 second break is getting shorter between every round. Then you go out there to fight again. All the while you keep thinking, this person is in my way to the GOLD. I must vanquish them.

Two days of fighting, two days of laying it all on the line, two days of pain. Then they hand you your medal, and while not every battle you come out on top, you realize that your biggest opponent was not the warrior in front of you, but the coward inside of you. The coward that says you cannot do this, run and hide. The voice of doubt is silenced as you come out battered and bruised; but you survived. So no matter what the score card says, you know you are a champion. Then your opponent comes across to you and grabs your hand and raises it higher than his. You might not have earned the gold, but you earned something more – the respect of your peers. You walked into the arena as combatants but walked away as brothers forged by broken sticks and bones, sealed with blood and sweat and the victory belongs to you all. 
This is Filipino Martial Arts, and this is what it means to compete.